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Small Business Meal Prep Company Perseveres In A Covid Climate; Offers Healthy Eating Options To Community

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COMMUNITY BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

By Zach Schrader

Tuesday, November 03, 2020 — PrepLIFE Meal Prep Grill’s co-founders Kevin Pascual and Keith Perez have worked hard and came a long way growing this business and giving back to their community over the past five years. When they first began operating they cooked all the meals out of Kevin’s father’s kitchen and delivered them to customers themselves. Five years later they were able to open prepLIFE’s first commercial restaurant location. With no prior business experience or schooling, they learned how to run a business on the job.

prepLIFE owners Kevin Pascual (L) and Keith Perez (R)

Kevin highlighted “perseverance, resilience, and sticking to the vision” as their keys to growing this business over the years. However, this process has not been without setbacks, and maybe none bigger than opening their doors right as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.

A major part of prepLIFE’s strategy was the store being located in the same lot as a 24 Hour Fitness, and they had hoped gym goers would come grab a healthy meal after their workout. When the gym had closed due to the pandemic, a parking lot that was normally packed with the exact customer they had hoped to attract had become empty.

Though these were not the opening circumstances they had hoped for, they have focused on the positives and even have been able to make it work out in their favor in some ways. Kevin described this opening as a “long soft opening”, allowing them to figure everything out and get their team working together smoothly without it being too hectic. Keith added, “If we can be successful and thrive during a pandemic, when the economy fully comes back we will be more than okay.”

As natives to the Inland Empire, Kevin and Keith have been very active in giving back to the community through prepLIFE. Kevin attributed this to “How we were brought up… we were raised to always give back to the community and do our part.”

PrepLIFE has held an event on Thanksgiving every year since they’ve been in business called Thanks4Giving, where members of the community come to pick up free meals and distribute them out to those in need. In light of the pandemic, this year’s Thanks4Giving will be a drive through but everything else will be the same as previous years. PrepLIFE’s motto, “eat with purpose” highlights their commitment to give back to the community by providing healthy meals with the same convenience and affordable price as a typical fast food place. Keith said “I think this is something the community needs, and the entire country needs more of.”

Interview conducted by Zach Schrader, Contributing Reporter for the Inland Empire Business Journal.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Members of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson’s Bipartisan Forum urge support of SB 1338

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Bipartisan Group of Riversiders Give CARE Court Stamp of Approval

How much longer can we humanely avert our eyes, ignoring the mentally incapacitated people languishing on our streets?  In a recent poll conducted by Suffolk University, 90% of respondents believed that the U.S. is facing a “full-blown mental health crisis”, and in a California Health Policy Survey, Californians’ identified their top priority policy as ‘ensuring people with severe mental health disorders can get treatment” (2020).   

Californians have an opportunity to address this seemingly bottomless crisis. The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment Act (CARE), also known as Senate Bill 1338, empowers family members, first responders, and behavioral health providers with an avenue to petition a civil court on behalf of a loved one or community member that is incapable of caring for themselves. This potentially allows families and local communities the ability to initiate a CARE plan to provide behavioral health care, including medication, housing, and other services, to adults with psychotic disorders and people who lack medical decision-making capacity. A critically important part of the plan is the appointment of both a public defender and a personal advocate to help guide participants and ensure individual rights are protected.  

Californians across the political spectrum agree that it is time to make a bold commitment to transforming our broken mental health system to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and we have an opportunity to do so now. Arguably, California has not seen meaningful mental health reforms since 1972, partially because we continue to allow a quest for perfection to negate a commitment to incremental progress.

As diverse members of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson’s Bipartisan Forum, we urge you to join us in supporting this legislation.  Please contact your state representative this week (https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov) to urge a yes vote on SB 1338.

In October 2021, Riverside’s Mayor, Patricia Lock Dawson, convened a group of 14 community members with differing political ideologies to help drive solutions for the crises amongst those in homeless situations with serious mental health conditions. The group felt passionate that state-level mental health reforms were needed, including tools that would allow families to compel their family members with psychotic and addiction disorders into treatment.  The CARE Court legislation (SB 1338) is a step forward in this direction. 

Members of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson’s Bipartisan Forum are: Dr. Cheryl-Marie Osborne Hansberger, Chani Beeman, Steve Johnson, Ana Miramontes, Rico Alderette, Tisa Rodriguez, Chuck Avila, Sheila Kay Riley, Ruben Ayala, Janice Rooths, Keith Sklarsky, Ana Lee, Dr. Regina Patton-Stell

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Inland Empire Community Foundation Announces $589,500 to 40 Nonprofits from Community Impact Fund

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Grants will be used to strengthen work that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF) announced that 40 nonprofits received $589,500 in grants through its Community Impact Fund, designed to support and expand the capacity and effectiveness of organizations working to advance racial, gender, and economic equity for residents in the Inland Empire.

In keeping with the Foundation’s focus on grantmaking through an equity lens, grants from the Community Impact Fund will be used to strengthen work that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Unrestricted grants between $5,000 and $20,000 were given for general operating costs and to support efforts that enable an organization to carry out its mission effectively. To be eligible for a grant, each organization had to demonstrate a commitment to practicing and institutionalizing diversity, equity and inclusion in governance, staffing, organization practices, and collaborative relationships.

The 2021/2022 Community Impact Fund grantees are:

  • A Coming Of Age Foster Family Agency
  • Academy for Grassroots Organizations
  • Assistance League of San Bernardino
  • Bear Valley Community Healthcare District Foundation
  • Bezerk Productions
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire
  • Boys & Girls Club Of The Hi-Desert
  • Boys & Girls Club of the San Gorgonio Pass
  • Breast Cancer Solutions
  • Brightest Star Inc.
  • Camp of Champions A & M, Inc.
  • Caravanserai Project
  • Cathedral City Senior Center
  • Child Advocates Of San Bernardino County
  • Consortium for Early Learning Services
  • Cove Communities Senior Association
  • Desert Rose Trauma Recovery
  • Empower You Edutainment
  • Faith in Action of San Gorgonio Pass
  • Feed My Flock Ministries
  • First Christian Church of Ontario, CA
  • First Tee-Coachella Valley
  • Fox Riverside Theater Foundation
  • Friends of the Desert Mountains
  • Garner Holt Foundation
  • Giving 365 Inc.
  • Gracious Heart Resource Family Agency
  • Inland Empire Community Collaborative, Inc.
  • Inland Equity Community Land Trust
  • Janet Goeske Foundation
  • Making Hope Happen Foundation
  • Mountain Counseling & Training, Inc.
  • Operation New Hope
  • Ophelia’s Jump Productions
  • People’s Collective for Environmental Justice
  • Positive Young People Inc.
  • The Arts Area
  • The Empowerment Center
  • The Hole in the Wall Inc.
  • Voices for Children

“So many of our students are first generation college graduates and the majority are BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color], but I saw a disparity in where the money was going,” said John Machado, art history professor at Chaffey College and founder of The Arts Area, a CIF grantee. “What I was seeing was that a lot of these students were giving up on their dream.”

The CIF grant will support arts programs that encourage diverse, equitable and inclusive arts opportunities. This includes Curious Publishing’s BIPOC fund which will cover the costs of printing books for five artists.

Celia Cudiamat, Senior Vice President of Grants and Community Impact, said, “Practicing equity and inclusion requires commitment, diligence, intentionality, and patience over a sustained period of time. This is a joint, on-going journey for IECF as well and we look forward to learning from our grantees over the coming year.”

IECF accepts competitive grant proposals from nonprofit organizations who work to make a difference in the lives of Riverside and San Bernardino County residents throughout the year. Nonprofits interested in applying in 2023 can check the IECF website for guidelines and giving periods.

The 2023 grant schedule and instructions on how to apply will be available in February 2023.

The CIF is funded by generous donations to IECF in support of unrestricted giving. The CIF allows IECF to respond to emerging needs and build the capacity of nonprofits in the IE. Individuals who wish to invest in the Community Impact Fund, or to a community cause or issue that is particularly meaningful to them, can contact IECF to see how their donation might make the biggest impact. For assistance, contact Brie Griset Smith, Senior Vice President of Charitable Giving at 951-241-7777, ext. 111.

Access Photos Here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/4HYNiRSinXkgLzpn9

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James Tate, Corona, reaches 100 gallons in blood donations

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James Alan Tate, 58, of Corona, first donated blood over 30 years ago with LifeStream.

On Friday, Dec. 17, Tate reached his lifetime blood donation milestone, becoming a 100-gallon donor at LifeStream Blood Bank’s Riverside Donor Center, 4006 Van Buren Boulevard.

Tate shared that when he first started donating blood, he would do so intermittently until he realized how important blood donations were for the community.

“From that point forward, I decided to donate as much whole blood, plasma and platelets as I could each year,” he said. “Donating has turned into my life’s passion. Over the years, LifeStream has become my second family.”

Tate and his wife Nancy have lived in Corona for 33 years, where he worked in the aerospace industry. They have one son, Austin. Tate said that through the years he has made many incredible friends through blood donation.

“As long as there are people in need, God willing, I will donate as many life-saving donations as I can.”

LifeStream is a local, nonprofit blood bank that provides blood products and services to more than 80 Southern California hospitals.

For more information, call 800-879-4484 or visit LStream.org.

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